BEST FILM BOOK EVER?

Did this year really include a hardback tome on the history of the Vocoder and a full guide to punks in movies? Somebody up there likes us. You need ‘Destroy All Movies!!’ in your life. It’s heartening to know that there’s people out there who are truly sick with it. Like, really, really obsessed with a single niche. Like cinematic punkers. As in every single punk appearance in a film, whether it’s the substantial role played by Trash and company in ‘Return of the Living Dead’, classic documentaries like ‘DOA’ or the nerve pinched punker in ‘Star Trek IV’…then onto the b-movies of the 1980s where every vigilante grindhouse treat, slasher, sex comedy or subculture cash-in included at least one does of mohawked bad attitude or an outsider with studs on a jacket. Who would be deranged enough to try to compile this? Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly amassed a crew of fellow weirdos and trawled increasingly defunct VHS rental spots to create the definitive tome on punks in movies. Everything’s here—even the blink-and-miss crowd moments warrant a full review.

The very best books on cinema, like Kim Newman’s ‘Nightmare Movies’ (which gets an update next April), Chas Balun’s (R.I.P.) ‘Gore Score’, Danny Peary’s ‘Cult Films’ trilogy, Stephen Thrower’s ‘Nightmare USA’ or Creation Books titles like David Kerekes’s ‘Killing For Culture’, this one will make you realise that you’ve only just scratched the surface of b-movies and provide a comprehensive education on some total rarities. Where else does Fassbinder in animal print nestle alongside an interview with the man who helmed 1989’s sleazy ‘Skinheads: The Second Coming of Hate’. Even old favourites like Penelope Spheeris’s superior punker flick ‘Suburbia’, ‘Ladies & Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains’ and ‘Times Square’ benefit from added insight and a few sacred cows are skewered throughout. Fantagraphics have been sating a personal taste for the esoteric since my childhood, but this one really has blown me away. There’s even an enlightening interview with Ian MacKaye that answers a few open questions from repeat viewings of ‘Another State of Mind’.

With YouTube and imdb.com primed, the reading experience is even more enlightening. It’s a single-minded subject matter, but it’s surprising how much the rebel figure invaded cinema over the last thirty something years, which makes this one resonate even harder. There’s a curious diplomacy to ‘Fight Club’ getting the same level of coverage as ‘Grotesque’—a truly split-personality viewing experience which veers from home invasion grittiness to high camp. The entire tome has a no-frills, but truly thorough feel that evokes memories of finding similarly obsessive retrospectives in comic book stores, university libraries and second-hand book stores. It’s instantly familiar but riddles with surprises. Hell, there’s a lot of information that’s a Google search away, but it’s never this lucid, structured, insightful or crucially, offered in one place. A sense of seen-it-all complacency gave way to a certain urgency after an inaugural browse—’UK/DK’ and ‘Scarred’ just went on the must-see list.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll attempt to find omissions. And chances are—just like me—you’ll fail. Invest. Looking at the ‘Class of 1984′ poster art on the front, you can judge this one by its cover.

www.punksonfilm.com



PAJAMA RICH

“These ain’t even real clothes/Homey, I’m pajama rich.”

Kanye West on ‘Start It Up’  Lloyd Banks ft. Fabolous, Kanye West, Ryan Leslie & Swizz Beatz)

Kanye done did it again. The master of the outlandish boast declared himself “Pajama Rich” recently, declaring his expensive attire to be nothing more than bedwear. That’s hip-hop in full effect right there. After some tactically executing bad behaviour  that afforded him PR for months, he seems to, as Jack Donaghy put it in a recent ’30 Rock’, be “Reaganing” —the phenomenon of succeeding in all his tasks and error-free living. You don’t need to read a single more sentence regarding the man’s new album—nor do you need to read any more about his Rosewood approach to dressing. That’s because the album is instant classic and not dressing as if you’re fourteen when you’re thirty plus is a given. But to taking pajama rich concept a little more literally, to be able to saunter around in bedwear without risk of sectioning is truly living the dream. I want to see bedwear become the next hip-hop style movement.

I’m thinking of something a little more structured than T-Boz, Chilli and Left Eye’s vast swathes of unflattering fabric back in the 1990s. If you’ve felt a curious sense of liberation wandering to the local shop in pajama trousers, trainers and a tee for dairy products, media and tobacco products, that’s because it’s a feel good style. Band of Outsiders and Opening Ceremony’s cooler-than-thou collision resulted in some excellent sleepwear and Ralph Lauren’s Polo empire puts out some pieces at a pricepoint that veers towards luxury without breaking the bank. They’re my perennial loungewear of choice, offering the perfect mix of comfort and the faintly excessive. Do you really need the horse and rider on your PJs? Yes. yes you do. There’s a certain joy in it, even if it’s only impressing you, the wearer. Polo’s plaid creations are phenomenal and the very notion of a button-up pajama is gloriously old-fashioned and strangely decadent—a patterned suit specifically for sleep? It’s the kind of thing that fast-living should’ve—but thankfully hasn’t—phased out.

I’ma let you finish, but Turnbull & Assar’s Sea Island pajamas are the ultimate. Sea Island cotton, cotton piping and mother of pearl buttons in a selection of beautiful Bengal stripes is aspirational nightwear. It’s some regal gear for lazy behaviour and dandyish lounging. Despite their 24-hour openings, Cardiff’s Tesco store recently outlawed pajama shopping. It’s interesting that pajamas were never developed as attire especially for sleeping. They can be pretty effortless and elegant. I’d triple-dare them to eject me, red-eyed, from the instant noodle section in that kind of slumberland finery. Homer Simpson knew the score during Springfield’s first (and only) ‘Do What You Feel Festival’ sauntering down the street in dressing gown and novelty slippers—“This is great. I can finally look like I want and not get hassled by the man.” Damn right.

HAND OF DOOM

After peeping the Nike archive, I’ve been pondering some near-mythical forays into the musician-footwear realm. While Nike’s emphasis in the 1970s seemed to be to step on adidas’s toes as much as possible (which is well documented in the book ‘Swoosh’), but it also ushered in some oddities that have been whispered in collector circles for a few years. The Yeezy? That’s new-jack stuff.

Next year that mania’s set to reappear, but looking back to the brand’s early days, in 1975 Sir Elton John got himself a proto-pair of Nike Bespokes—Geoff Hollister made him a multicoloured platform pair. I’ve never seen that actual pair, but the recently unearthed Cortez-sole, Roadrunner upper looking pieces—placed on eBay by an ex bouncer from a club that had them on a wall display after a visit by Elton – fit the mid ’70s year of origin by silhouette and described makeup.

That relationship seemed to flourish, but the later release for a full tour crew that seems to date to around 1980 with shades of Daybreak or Tailwind in the upper is a personal favourite in terms of makeup and execution. The fantastic Gallic video from sneakers.fr showing Edymalawi’s phenomenal collection offers a couple of extra musician SMUs—the aluminum swoosh runners for Rod Stewart’s band that seem to be on the same sole unit as the Eltons from the same era (the sole looks like a Nike Leisure’s sole). Imagery of the mysterious Bob Marley rastas that were reputedly made for the legendary adi-head still eludes me, but the Devo versions (again, looking like the Elton and Rod silhouette) are another revelation.

I need to find out more about the mysterious Nike musician rollout.

It’s magazine season again. The highlight of this month’s offering is a new issue of ‘Manzine’ that ups the content, stays irreverent (and non-cunty in that approach too) and incorporates a great pieces on the Berlin doner kebab, female pubic hair, nuclear bunkers, everyday glass design classicism, fatherhood, driving etiquette and misspelt names on Starbucks cups. It’s fucking brilliant and a hotbed of experienced writers let loose without being tethered by ad money or ABC circulation. The illustrated Oi Polloi advertorial is a highlight —the antidote to the solemn treatments to clobber elsewhere. That’s why Oi Polloi keep their lead while everyone else copies their buying policy. Just fucking buy ‘Manzine’.

If, like me, you insist on spending thirty pounds on magazines which only get a brief browse and you justify them as a future research investment, you’re probably deluded. Berlin’s ‘032c’ marks its twentieth issue by including a vast feature on Rei Kawakubo with an essay my Mr. John Waters to introduce it, an interview with David Simon that isn’t wooly like a Guardian chat and a great piece on Arc’teryx Veilance that lets Conroy make himself heard. Veilance is awesome. Soon, everyone will realise this. Having to travel to DSM rather than my usual news stand near Carnaby Street to pick it up was symptomatic of the strange, staggered approach to dropping publications that hinders casual discovery. This issue is great.

b Store’s ‘b’ magazine is still better than it should be too. A store’s magazine should be a glorified self-promoting lookbook. That’s how it’s meant to work, and I’ve never assumed otherwise. ‘b’ doesn’t do that—instead it offers product without the hard or soft sell. That’s supreme confidence. The piece on collectors is good, as is the Stephan Schneider piece. Obviously, the incorporation of Champion (which you should buy from the Original Store on these shores) in shoots is a strong look. Blending athletic wear and casual coats are in every spread I see at the moment.

Along with sunglasses I have issues with gloves. Padded ski numbers are a simpleton look, but traditional leather numbers make me look like a Nazi sadist or Giallo-style murderer. I can’t pull that off. Thank you to Mikkel and the Norse crew for creating those tan deerskin numbers with Hestra. My hands are safe as the temperature prepares to plummet, but this video from a few months back from the aforementioned Arc’teryx brand makes me want Alpha gloves from them too. GORE-TEX gauntlets are my kind of thing.

Here’s a picture of John Lydon in the PIL era wearing a pair of Air Flows too. It’s an odd pick…but somehow it makes sense. If there’d been a Lydon SMU, that would have been one to track down.

A GOOD TIME FOR NERDS

Between pondering as to why there’s been no Roberto Duran biopic made, I’ve been nerding out lately. For us b-movie geeks, somebody up there likes us. If you like horror films, beyond the wonderful work of Arrow Video (mentioned here last week), there’s more treats out there. Incidentally, if you don’t pick up ‘Destroy All Movies!!!’ on Fantagraphics, you’re a fool and we have little in common…but that’s another entry entirely.

I’m still waiting to pick up Christian Sellers and Gary Smart’s ‘The Complete History of the Return of the Living Dead’ but in the meantime, if you’ve got even the slightest leaning towards the realm of cinematic bloodshed—and I don’t want to even commence debating the imbecilic “torture porn” label here—you may well enjoy ‘Teenage Wasteland: The Slasher Movie Uncut’. I thought I knew a fair bit about teens getting sliced and diced until I picked up J.A. Kerswell’s knife, javelin, pitchfork and kitchen sink wielding tome. If you’re a lazy designer—or even a motivated one—looking for inspiration, the lurid posters and stills here might fire your imagination. So far I’ve only scratched the surface and I’ve already noticed that I know nothing. At all. Kerswell is my new teacher.

You can’t pick the former up without grabbing the triple-disc box set of Jake West’s ‘Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape’ documentary, which in itself is a fascinating watch, that makes our moral guardians look dafter and more corrupt than ever. But it doesn’t stop there – this entire package has a thirteen hour running time with deleted scenes, bonus supplementary footage, more trivia than is strictly necessary, trailers for everything on the hallowed 1980s BBFC “video nasties” list (that’s seventy-two films) and for the truly dysfunctional (or for more graphic designers on an idea pilfering mission), no less than fifty minutes of frequently animated video identities for onetime VHS powerhouses from a time before those pesky MPs put age limits on masterpieces like ‘Anthopophagus The Beast’…also known as ‘Man Beast’ or ‘The Grim Reaper’ or ‘The Savage Island’ or ‘The Zombie’s Rage’. I love the lawlessness of the era that allowed for repeat renaming dependent on distributor and/or territories.

If you like anything that goes a little too far in its exploration to the point where it becomes a worrying, single-minded quest for comprehensiveness and even if horror cinema isn’t your main focus in life, it’s worth picking up the ‘Video Nasties…’ to set as a gore-drenched marker as to how far too far actually is.

Even though the new wave of killer croc films let me down, Australian cinema’s been responsible for some fine genre pieces lately. Making full use of the location, ‘Animal Kingdom’ was a great little movie that cranked up the intensity with a certain expertise. ‘Red Hill’ carries the same level of technical savvy and works that scenery in, even if it’s a little heavy-handed in its modern western theme of perceived evil riding into town to settle scores. It’s hugely enjoyable, with some nasty deaths and a pervading sense of darkness throughout. Did it need the spiritual overtones? Probably not, but it’s still gritty as hell. At times, some stylized shots had me reminiscing over Russell Mulcahy’s ultra stylized killer-pig flick, ‘Razorback’. That boar on steroids effort might be dumber than multiple barrels of monkeys, but it’s also beautiful. However, ‘Red Hill ‘ director Patrick Hughes leaves a little more meat on the bones of his effort than Russell’s heavily gnawed, flawed masterpiece.

Finally, cheers to Nike for this shoebox-themed creation created in the Innovation Kitchen and made from an old basketball court. The fact that organization has people on campus who think up and create this kind of thing gives them a substantial edge over the competition. I have no idea what I’ll keep in it, but it’s something that spits in the face of cardboard anonymity and is—in its own labour-intensive way—fairly ecologically sound.

SERIAL KILLER CHIC

Films take precedence over footwear. Anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong. Yesterday I had to pleasure of seeing a new transfer of Michael Powell’s ‘Peeping Tom’ with Miss Grace Ladoja, whose come very fucking far since we discussed David Cronenberg a long time ago—the ladies in London seem to make big moves while the males talk shit with their hands in their pockets. It’s curious to think that critics were disgusted by what they saw on-screen to the point where they made a concerted effort to destroy Powell’s career, but it’s all in the context. Fifty years ago, nobody was making films about psychologically abused loners making their own snuff films.

Now, despite the beauty of Otto Heller’s cinematography, the majority of the performances come off stilted and ludicrous, the unpleasant subject matter hardly operates within any level of gritty realism and the comedy moments come off like a fart joke at a funeral. None of that matters, because compared to the camp cinematic horrors of the time, it’s the ‘Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer’ of its time. ‘Psycho’ is a far better film that aged well, but the point-of-view shots, weirdo home video films-within-a-film and abrupt ending must have been a true shock to the system.

Carl Boehm’s performance as Mark is still classic—a strangely sympathetic, periodically German-accented (never actually explained in the film) performance that outshines the dialogue he’s given. To be in an audience that seemed liberally scattered with relatives of those who appeared in the film and to see Powell superfan Martin Scorcese talk onstage after the film with editor (and Powell’s widow) Thelma Schoonmaker was memorable. I prefer the film’s history to the film itself and this upped my appreciation.

Another element of the lead’s appeal despite his murderous ways is in his attire. He zips around London on a scooter rocking a vast duffel coat rather than the clinically suited or grubby attire of a villain. He just seems rather ordinary – which is the point, but it makes him significantly more unnerving. That was a presumed addition to the level of vitriol ‘Peeping Tom’ instigated. Swathed in boiled wool he seems like quite an innocent. For all the introverted weirdness, Boehm looks pretty cool too. the camel-coloured jacket had me wanted to put on the Gloverall Monty coat in the same colour. It’s a good jacket to be keeping vast old-fashioned cameras in if you’re feeling psychotic and voyeuristic.

Trevor Howard wore a duffel well in ‘The Third Man’ and Jack Nicholson looked right in ‘Carnal Knowledge’s college days, but mad Mark gets it right when he’s not scuttling off to darkroom to watch a prostitute get brutally offed.

With a spate of DIY re-imaginings of established movie posters, there seems to be a rise of excellent official alternatives to the more widely distributed artworks. The European poster for Aronowsky’s ‘Black Swan’ is one of my favourites since the awesome ‘Dogtooth’ effort last winter. Given the beautiful art deco themed work for promo materials that surrounded Joe Johnston’s fine ‘Rocketeer’ in 1991, I’m seeing a similar wartime look to shots from his forthcoming ‘Captain America’—hopefully there’ll be more excellent poster art as that production progresses.

Kudos to the UK’s Arrow Video for killing it on the Blu-ray and DVD front when it comes to cult films for us weirdos. They’ve done fine work with Romero’s zombie flicks, Argento’s giallo masterpieces, some Bava and much more. Their relationship with fans and use of feedback is to be applauded and the ‘Battle Royale’ boxset—released at the end of this month—looks set to trump any Tartan editions and it looks like fanboys have been allowed to run amok in the extras department. Don’t get me started on the impending ‘Demons’ and ‘Demons 2′ releases…

TRAILING OFF

This blog is brought to you in association with Nike…I’m kidding. But you’d be forgiven for thinking that was the case. What can I say? It’s one of those weeks. My fanaticism for All Conditions Gear is no secret around these parts. I’ve got love for Terra too, not to mention the early days of Nike Hiking. Between 1989 and 1994 ACG redefined design for me and altered my perception of colour coordination. Purple, grey and orange just made sense on a rugged running oddity. Pink, green and grey? Not a problem.

With honourable exceptions they weren’t vast successes (though curiously, the Air Mada —a shoe I always believed to be a niche, affordable takedown of more expensive releases flew out). Thanks to my homies making power moves on and offline, Bradley and Joe, I got the opportunity to nerd out and write the love letter to big-brand trail runners I’d always wanted to do, but couldn’t quite take the pressure of breaking down criterias. I also thought it might be a geeky step too far, but it’s Complex and under their jurisdiction, obsessive becomes a little cooler. Of course, a grown man salivating over recycled rubber soles and brown nubuck is always going to be a little strange.

I can’t help but think that ACG has always been ahead of its time. The research and development behind even the most comically named releases (though you can see where they got their money’s worth out of lasts and neoprene technologies) was staggering—something I attribute to some big shot-callers at Beaverton having a vested interest in off-road wanderings. They were rarely overpriced on eBay either. ACG and Terra releases were something you could drop thirty on during two minutes of downtime to cheer yourself up and you could see those beige boxes from a mile off. The design savvy on some of these shoes is staggering—the branding and sub-branding goes way beyond the call of duty during the early ’90s. I’m obsessed. These guys broke barriers and we opted to revert to heavyweight hikers with red laces or moc-toed workboots – that’s how it goes. But I’m still confident a switch to tech will occur when everyone gets bored of the John Steinbeck styling.

It’s a great depression that the tradical (© Kyle at Goodhood, 2010) look is so bloody homogenized that the whole planet is shilling nothing but “nice” things. I want to see some weird shit that hurts feelings. I always felt that the boffins at Nike were keen to instigate acts of trailblazing when it came to offroad and that notion of limitless outdoor freedom leached onto the sketchpads at even the most nascent creative stage. In 2010, a lot of pieces seem to have been merged with NSW rather than remaining utterly (and presumably un commercially) hardcore. Still, the continued popularity of the truly amazing Zoom Tallac keeps hope alive and just when jackets got very sensible indeed, plenty of ACG (cheers to Dave for the heads up) camo pieces turn up in Mercer Street, including the brutal-looking Icex GORE-TEX jacket. Now that’s a serious piece of outerwear.

So the fam at Complex let me run through my top 50—the original list actually had the adidas Torsion Special and New Balance 802 in the mix but they were so outnumbered it seemed unfair—Nike Trail Shoes. Some are overlooked, some were never released and others just reflect a happier time for me. I know some of you are just as, if not more, peculiar than me, so if you’re cursing the omission of 1999’s ACG Exploraids and Explorun or 1996’s Air Skarn and 1997’s ACG Glace, all of which have their own fanclubs, it’s because I don’t get their appeal. Never have, never will. Anyway, the countdown’s right here and even peeling paint won’t topple my number one design.

DIGRESSION

I currently work in an area that, bar a fabled Japanese spot, is something of a culinary wasteland. London’s good, but it’s missing a few of my favourites from overseas. The rumours of a J Crew arriving at some point are one thing (and I would expect no less than an irritating pound to dollar RRP), but they’ve been fruitless thus far. There’s a few other exports than need to arrive.

Dear Ippudo. Please come to London and let us have good Tonkatsu ramen in the nation’s capital, rather than a slightly more perplexing version of the dish that I have to force myself to enjoy. I’ve had recommendations left, right and centre, but it always sucks compared to the real deal. I know it would be hyped to hell and I’d have to wait hours to be patronized by a jobbing actor asking if I’ve had noodles before, but seeing as I’m reliably informed that I have to travel to a golf course restaurant just outside the city to get something akin to the deep, complex flavour I crave, I’m cool with that. You’ve done NYC…now stretch a little further.

It would be great if a Supreme opened up in London for 2011 given that the company’s man in charge is a Brit and that between James and Michael they’ve long been repped on these shores with the necessary exclusivity (though old heads will recall Dr. Jives and Bond stocking the gear too), it’s time it got super-official over here. But of course, that’s just a pipe dream. After all, it’s not like we got BAPE and Stussy-only stores over here…oh, wait…we did. Interesting.

I support local newsstands whenever I can, but they always seem to be about half-way there. I will continue to support, but I want a vast hub of publications on the scale of Universal News over here. To buy, say, a trio of publications, it’s not unusual to have to wander to three different retailers across the capital. Extra points to anyone who can import Japanese fashion magazines and, while I appreciate the tax is a bitch, doesn’t bankrupt me in the space of two publications. Often Universal News has been manned by a student type who seemed nonplussed by my try-before-you-buy approach to purchase.

I would call for a Shake Shack, but I don’t want to infringe on the fine work that The Meatwagon is doing these days. I’m aware that In-N-Out will never happen. But how on earth can we have multiple Krispy Kremes and even a Cinnabon, but no great pizza? Sugary crap before we even get the main course? I’m talking NYC-style efforts (still, I’m not going to call them “pies”). Give me a single branch of Motorino in the city or at least something on that scale. I fear that if I ever took a friend from the States (especially the east coast) out for a pizza, I’d have to cut off my little finger as a token of my apology before the bill even arrived.

On an NYC pizza subject, this documentary on the legendary Di Fara pizzeria is beautiful…

BROUGHT BACK DOWN TO EARTH


There’s something about electronically heated footwear that attracts me, even if these are kind of ugly. Still, they’re a marked improvement on version one from last winter.

So I’m sat on a plane being a prick…actually, let me elaborate—I’m sat in first class between PDX and Chicago’s O’Hare airport enjoying those precious inches of leg room, pondering on recent print victories, thinking about invoices I need to fire off for work from months ago and thinking about my great time at Nike WHQ. I was marinading in a state of self-satisfaction, just pondering as to how exactly I found myself in that situation but with an unhealthy lack of humility—that’s prick behaviour. While I was hardly bellowing about my marvelous state-of-living, I must have been exuding an aura of smugness. Had I seen me I would have clenched my fists in rage, but I was too busy pleasantly dazed in the moment for any semblance of introspection.

On steps a rangy six-foot-something middle-aged man who takes the window seat to my right. Looking like your friend’s chatty dad, he’s wearing a Columbia branded shirt and the semi-uniform somehow manages to be both crumpled and clinical with a dress-down medical look. Clocking the feature on breast reconstruction in the copy of Wired that’s currently subject to my pre-takeoff browse, small talk escalates like a forest fire into loftier matters of subsidised healthcare, pharmaceutical company interests, sustainable agriculture and the rise of the right. At six in the morning I’m finding it a challenge not to be that person you cringe at during an eavesdrop—the one who can only muster “Really?” and “Wow!” as they attempt to steer a conversation back to their comfort zone.

The branding on my co-passenger’s shirt distracts me. As he explains in a measured manner as to why diesel beats hybrid electric vehicles on a number of levels (mileage, cost and convenience being just three that I recall), the Columbia name reminds me of Tom Penny’s boots. My mind drifts in and out of the conversation and I’m tactically nodding. What he’s saying is interesting, but my already-tattered attention span has been chipped away by a night of barely sleeping, interrupted by flight anxiety, precautionary lamps (just in case I got too comfortable), the periodic sounds of unloaded crates on the street below and a recurring infomercial for Shake Weight—a dumbbell program that’s got a faint masturbatory edge to it.

He’s still explaining those vehicular benefits and I’m slipping into slack-jawed yes-man mode as I ponder cold weather apparel and Columbia’s new heated boots. Was it AG who decried Timbs for something? Was it for racism or ubiquity? Didn’t he rap about switching to North Face or Columbia instead? I’m aware that I’m pondering crap, but it’s in full fragmented flow right now and I’m fully aware that it’s happening, yet I still need to maintain a conventional conversation too. We’re onto the cost of medicine here and without a hint of ego, my co-passenger mentions that he’s a physician at a children’s hospital. It’s not bravado or one-upmanship—it’s necessary to the topic, as his specific knowledge of pill prices would be a little unnerving otherwise. I’m still mentally attempting a multitasking operation and now the fuzzy DITC footwear recollections are interspersed with low-level panic regarding the effects on my sleep patterns of a substantial layover that’s looming.

“Of course, it could be worse,” says my co-passenger, “at least it’s not Tanzania!” I’ve heard Tanzania’s not a lot of fun but my mind still wanders. I need to update my blog the next day. I need to prepare to write a lookbook I’d pledged to get started on. I’ve got some materials to transcribe in order to create some urgent press releases. I need to fire off some emails. I am a busy man. Then my window seat friend tells me how he volunteers in Tanzania, helping with medication in small villages. Again, he explains this matter-of-factly with no trace of arrogance. He’s not fishing for a high-five or a “Good for you! There should be more like you out there.” He mentions it as if it’s a human duty to help those significantly less fortunate. At home, he rarely sees a child death at the institution he’s based at—you see, humans are hardy creatures.

In Tanzania it’s not rare to see a few children die a day, but he gives out a medication that pregnant women with HIV can take that to protect a baby from the virus, even if it often makes the HIV-infected father suspicious that his wife may have been sleeping around to have given birth to a non-HIV son or daughter. Apparently Tanzania’s complicated like that. I’ve stopped pondering WordPress and monies owed by this point. My nameless travel companion once spent a week talking a wealthy former president of the country into donating a few thousand dollars and participating in a fund and awareness raising exercise, but he wanted payment, first class flight tickets, plus running shoes and uniforms for him and his entire entourage which rendered the whole exercise pointless. Still, my new friend is off to Brussels to talk to potential investors in his holiday time before heading to Tanzania again.

As we descend, he politely asks me what I do for a living—in response, I lie about my occupation.


These should have been released. Made for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver earlier in the year and featured on the Vanity Fair site, the Nike SFB Heater heated up for five hours when you clicked the maple leaf adorned button. Presumably costs kept them in the promo-only zone. They were featured on Vanity Fair’s site.